Creative Outlier Gold Wireless Headphones Review – One Bud to Rule Them All
Outlier Gold23rd May, 2019
It's surprising to me that it's been since months since I reviewed the Samsung Galaxy Buds after receiving a set during the Galaxy Unpacked event. In that time I've certainly had a lot of use out of them - they've taken a fair few knocks when using them at the gym. Indeed, one of the things I actually liked about them - the discreet, small, size - has proven to be a bit of a liability. This brings me to the Creative Outlier Gold wireless in-ear headphones, which certainly don't match that description.
Strong and Sturdy - Designing the Creative Outlier Gold
In keeping with talking about the design of the Creative Outlier Gold headphones, they're actually surprisingly large. At least compared to what I was expecting. It's strange to say this after praising the smaller size of the Galaxy Buds compared to the GearX, but from prolonged use of the buds, I'm so very happy about just how large these are. With this larger size comes a real sense of durability, but also stability in my ears. My ears are large, they swallow regular things, or they tend to be loose and fall out.
This has never been an issue with the Outlier Gold. They are large, bulky and most assuredly noticeable for anybody who happens to look at your ears when you're wearing them. They likely won't be the best things around for anybody with small ears due to their sheer size. Even on me, they're very visible, but this is something I'm more than happy to live with if it means I don't have to actually worry about them falling out or the chance of any damage.
Not only from the size of them, but the design has also left any sense of subtlety out of the headphones. With a large button in the middle, surrounded by a LED ring - showing the status of the particular earbud - there's no doubt somebody is going to notice them. Is that an issue? No. In fact, it's very much in keeping with the design and sturdiness, because that button in the middle has zero chance of you accidentally activating it. You have to give it a firm press to utilise it.
For that extra peace of mind, you'll also find that they're waterproof, or at least water-resistant. They have an IPX5 rating and, from personal use, I've found they're more than happy with a lot of sweating, finding themselves outside on a rainy day or under the occasional shower when I forgot to take them off. All in all, the buds themselves have proven to be a real sturdy piece of kit and something, particularly for the price and materials, I'm very satisfied with.
Much the same can be said for the case. The case, a fairly sizable item in itself, slides out to let you reveal the earbuds. On the side of the case there are four LEDs, two for the battery status of a particular bud, one showing the charging status of the case and another for the battery status of the case. As with the buds themselves, this is a large item for the sake of the battery, which is something well worth talking about.
Battery, Power and Performance - The Ideal Trinity
So, I've mentioned a few times about the size of the buds themselves, as well as the case that holds them, linking it to the battery. I wasn't just saying this for the sake of it because the battery size of the Creative Outlier Gold headphones is without competition. The buds themselves are stated to have a 14 hours playtime per charge, with the case then holding enough to give them an extra 25 hours. A total of 39 hours total playtime for a single full charge of the buds and case. From personal use, I'd say you're looking between 30 to 35 hours, depending on your volume, but that's still pretty damn great.
A lot of this is due to the tech inside the buds. Using Bluetooth 5.0, the energy usage is lower with the additional support of each earbud connecting to your phone independently of the other. I've been using them pretty frequently, primarily while at the gym or out hiking and I can't say I've had any real issues with the battery life or, most importantly, the connection and quality. In quite a bit of usage, I've only had the buds drop connection a few times. One was really irritating as I was on a group video chat when a regular phone call came in. I couldn't for the life of me get them to reconnect to the video chat, despite me having cancelled the incoming call.
I suppose that with it being a very specific issue, things like that can happen. Any other times they dropped the connection, they reconnected very quickly. This will likely always be a flaw with wireless headphones/earbuds but with how little they dropped, I can't complain at all. One thing is certain, the connection - when it's there - is good, because you'll never notice any issue in the audio quality.
When it comes to the audio quality, Creative have outdone themselves. When it comes to audio quality, there's quite literally nothing I can take issue with. The actual volume is top-notch, I've had no issues with hearing anything and, likely due to their size, the noise-cancelling is pretty good too. You're always going to be able to hear other things, but in reality, this is essential if you happen to be using them when out and about.
One thing that is interesting when it comes to the Creative Outlier Gold is the use of Creative's Super X-Fi, implemented through software rather than hardware. You'll set up the SXFI app, which will have you personalise the headphones to your ears and head - how much this actually has an impact I honestly don't know. What I do know is that using the app and the Super X-Fi software adds a level of depth to the sound put out by the headphones. Sadly, this only works on things actually stored on whatever device you're linked to, so you won't be adding anything to Netflix or YouTube.
You'll also find the same audio quality when transmitting, with the inner microphones helping to mitigate outside noise as best they can. People on the other side of a call - or group video chat over Workplace or Skype - aren't going to have any issues hearing you. That is unless you're in a building site or outside on a very windy day.
I can't help but be impressed by the Creative Outlier Gold headphones. Not only do they feel sturdy - with no give at all in the build, despite the materials used - they have a battery life that is quite literally top of the range and the audio quality is great for wireless earbuds, which will always have their limitations. Will wireless buds ever be as good as an actual headset? I can't even imagine that happening.
Still, for what is a low price compared to the competition - these are just £94.99/$99.99 - you're really going to struggle to find anything on the market that offers better value for money. I do have to make a similar complaint that I make towards almost every tech, why is it that the UK market is paying the equivalent of around $120, a 20% increase on the US price? I don't know of any state with a 20% tax rate, which would give the prices that parity. That complaint aside, these are brilliant.
Outlier Gold Headphones provided by Creative for review purposes.
Creative have what is, arguably, by far the best wireless earbuds on the market when it comes to value for money and the features within the buds. With an unparalleled battery length, high-quality audio - with the additional feature of Super X-Fi implemented via software - and no issues at all with the volume. The only real issue to speak of could be the size of the buds, which are far from discreet and aren't ideal for those with smaller ears.
- Very sturdy, despite the use of lower-priced materials
- Comfortable for those with larger ears
- High-quality audio
- Super X-Fi implementation via software
- Excellent value for money
- Super X-Fi has limitations, only working for things stored on-device
- The larger size could be an issue for those with smaller ears